Profs Earn Award for Article on Employment Issue

Dec. 13, 2011

Two public affairs professors in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at UT Dallas have received an American Review of Public Administration Best Article Award for their study of employee-dismissal policies in government workplaces.

Dr. R. Paul Battaglio and Dr. Doug Goodman helped produce “State Government Human Resource Professionals’ Commitment to Employment At Will,” a research article that examined attitudes about employment at will (EAW) among state human resource managers in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas.

The award for their paper, which was published in 2010, was presented at a recent business meeting for the Public Administration Section of the American Political Science Association’s annual conference in Seattle.

“We have civil service in place because of corruption and the influence of corruption in the first place. And at-will employment: Will it truly work in government, or will it lead back to political corruption?”

Dr. Doug Goodman

The article was “an outstanding contribution of knowledge of contemporary public sector human resource policy and practice,” the award selection committee said. The faculty members said they were surprised but honored.

“We had published it some time ago,” Goodman said. “It was pleasant news.”

The research uses survey data to evaluate attitudes toward arguments in support of EAW, which is a doctrine that allows employers to terminate employees for any reason at any time. The dismissal rights issue has become an important topic in discussions on reforming the merit-based civil service system, which affords certain job protections and insulates employees from political influence.

Goodman said the civil service system has long been a part of government agencies. He said there have been efforts to reform or even abolish it. Employment at will represents a fundamental shift in the employer-employee relationship in the public sector.

“We have civil service in place because of corruption and the influence of corruption in the first place,” Goodman said. “And at-will employment: Will it truly work in government, or will it lead back to political corruption?

Little is known about the potential impact of employment at will on public service and government performance, which is one reason the professors set out to evaluate the beliefs about the doctrine among stakeholders.

The researchers found that human resources managers from states with little to moderate amount of at-will employment view the policy
in a more favorable light than managers from states with extensive at-will employment practices. The authors also found that human resources managers with private sector experience view government employment at will in a more negative light.


Media Contact: Marissa Alanis, 972-883-2155, mxa117530@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, 972-883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.
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Paul BattaglioDoug Goodman
The award-winning paper by Dr. Paul Battaglio (left) and Dr. Doug Goodman examined attitudes about at-will employment among state human resource managers in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas.

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